Your pick for Most Intriguing Person of 2010 is ...
December 30th, 2010
10:09 AM ET

Your pick for Most Intriguing Person of 2010 is ...

He's been called a criminal, a spy and a champion of the First Amendment. Some think he’s a villain. Some see him as a hero.

The only thing that’s beyond debate: Julian Assange has more intrigue than the pulp section of a bookstore.

WikiLeaks' mastermind, the guy who everyone loved to hate or loved to defend, got the most first-place votes (25%) on's “Most Intriguing Person” poll for 2010. Following Assange were:

2. President Barack Obama
3. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg
4. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs
5. Marisol Valles Garcia, a police chief in Mexico
6. Chilean miner Edison Pena
7. Kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart
8. Tony Hayward, the former CEO of BP
9. Kim Jong Un, presumed future leader of North Korea
10. Antoine Dodson, whose thoughts about rape went viral on video

Maybe Assange’s victory is payback for Zuckerberg edging him out of Time's Person of the Year?

Let's recap why Assange was so captivating in ’10.

In July, the 39-year-old Australian with snow-white hair dominated headlines when the online organization he founded four years ago published a huge trove - 90,000 documents - of secret military documents about the Afghanistan war. Simultaneously, major news outlets The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel published the classified records and provided series of stories layered with context about the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. history. The documents provided what is considered to be the first on-the-ground, unvarnished look at the Afghanistan war. Many said that the documents conveyed that the war was going much worse than the positive interpretation often heard in Washington.

Suddenly, Assange was everywhere, and so were questions. Who was this man, and how did he get this information? What is WikiLeaks?

Assange taunted his critics (mostly government officials) on Twitter and in interviews and defended the right to publish the information, arguing that the world should know. An American soldier, Pvt. Bradley Manning, sat in a military prison in Virginia, widely suspected of the leak. Manning seems to have garnered fewer headlines than Assange, though the soldier’s story and the characters involved have sparked passionate reaction. Assange has repeatedly said that he does not know whether Manning was indeed the source of secret documents.

And that was just this summer.

By the fall, Assange was uber-famous. He was elusive, telling journalists that he hopped around the globe trying to avoid the officials whose ire he'd mightily stoked by betraying their secrets. During an interview with CNN on the eve of another document dump - this time more than 400,000 classified documents about the Iraq war - Assange walked out. He was irate that a reporter would ask him about allegations that he'd committed a sex crime in Sweden.

That separate story concerning the Sweden case unfolded in intriguing ways and is still unspooling. It's playing out now, as is another massive development in the ongoing WikiLeaks saga.

Popularly known as CableGate, WikiLeaks has released what it says is the beginning of a collection of 250,000 diplomatic U.S. cables. Some cables seem to be merely titillating; others appear to be critically revealing. No matter what, the story is going to continue for a long while. Consider this: Less than 1 percent of that gigantic trove has been published so far.

In the wake of the cable releases, corporations and groups doing business with WikiLeaks stopped doing business with the group, and in response Anonymous avengers fought back. Meanwhile, Assange was arrested in relation to the Sweden case, chatter about a "poison pill" file that Assange established captured the public's imagination, and the debate over WikiLeaks raged on.

Bottom line: You know you're interesting when “Saturday Night Live” creates a recurring character based on you. And isn't it a clue that you're going to win Most Intriguing Person on when even your alleged years-old online love pursuits become a top headline? Read his old OKCupid profile.

There's undoubtedly more to come from Assange. He told Forbes magazine in a recent interview that he has insider documents from a major bank, revealing all kinds of corruption and misdeeds. Many have speculated that it's Bank of America.

The holidays proved no break in Assange coverage. News hit that he inked a book deal. He said the money would go to pay his legal fees.

The biggest question, the one that perhaps fascinates the most, is this: Will Assange be charged with espionage?

2011 might hold the answer.

soundoff (488 Responses)
  1. VIP (not merely an important person)

    JJ. I thought you were dead? Gawd knows San Franciso will miss 1000 imbeciles.

    December 30, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jim jones

    man, I guess the mass suicide was almost as bad as dane cooks standup. at least I had the good sense to have everyone kill themselves, instead of just making them pay me to torture them.

    December 30, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. important person

    he was like this congressman with a wicked comb over.I remember it like it was 1979

    December 30, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jim jones

    nah, I'm chillin with jules, osama, elvis, and jimmy hoffa. were planning a sketch comedy show for NBC

    December 30, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. important person

    Lets face it,Jim Jones was a rock star

    December 30, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jim jones

    thus proving forever, combovers are not a vaiable defense in a gun fight.

    December 30, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. important person

    after they shot him I heard they made everyone look at the body.Then they all martched back to camp to the music theme from gilligans island

    December 30, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. VIP (not merely an imortant person)

    jj, didn't you mean MSNBC?

    December 30, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. important person

    my spelling is so third world

    December 30, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. VIP (not merely an imortant person)

    Is Eric Holder really the lost love child of Chuck Barry?

    December 30, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. VIP (not merely an imortant person)

    important person...i was gonna say 3rd grade. but my bad.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. VIP (not merely an imortant person)

    I mean look at me. Then look at me somemore. I am the most VIP person in the world and I don't drink that crap, Dos Equis. I

    December 30, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. important person

    I have this dog that thinks I want to fight him everytime I fart.........dr pill can you help

    December 30, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. VIP (not merely an important person)

    OK. I feel like David Letterman now. I've run out of jokes.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. important person

    I just want you people to know that I am a mental health professional,and you people scare the crap out of me.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24